Fantasy Football Column: Players to pick up before Week 2

Ron Rokhy

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The first week of fantasy football season shone light on both overlooked prospects and veterans alike who proved they can produce. Fantasy owners are often afraid to bench high draft picks in favor of waiver wire guys, but remember: players like Victor Cruz and Antonio Brown, who in their 2011-2012 campaigns caught over 1,500 and 1,000 yards respectively, were once buried under a sea of sub-par players projected much higher than them in the ranking system.Whether it be a third string receiver or the back-up of an aging, former stud running back, take the plunge and pick ‘em up — at worst, they can just be stashed on the bench, but at best, you could find they’re a top-20 fantasy producer. And for those who haven’t drafted yet, make sure to save room for these guys near the end of the draft!

Green Bay Packers’ Randall Cobb. Photo courtesy MCT

Five players to pick up immediately:

1) Kevin Ogletree – WR – Dallas Cowboys – 23.4 fantasy points in week 1 (standard Yahoo!)
Listed as a second-string receiver for the Cowboys and projected as the 1,809 best player by Yahoo! rankings, Ogletree really stepped up his game in Wednesday’s season opener against the Super Bowl-champion Giants. Not only did he have eight receptions, twice the amount as either Miles Austin or Dez Bryant, who start over him, he caught a game-high 114 yards and found the endzone twice.

He was targeted by Tony Romo 11 times throughout the game, five times more than his previous career high, and his two touchdowns were the first two of his career. Is it possible Romo has found a new favorite target? It’s worth it to find out.

2) Jay Cutler – QB – Chicago Bears – 22.9 fantasy points
Why use your first or second draft pick on Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees when you can nab a top-tier running back with it and still have a good QB? Cutler has always had a cannon for an arm — it’s just been a little difficult for him to show off as he’s been forced to throw to a punt returner masquerading as a receiver for the last five years (Devin Hester).

Enter Brandon Marshall.

Trading for Marshall was the best thing the Bears did for their offense. Coupled with the new acquisition, Cutler threw 333 yards, two touchdowns and finished with a passer rating of 98.9, 119 of those yards being hauled in by Marshall in his debut. If ex-Dolphins QB Matt Moore can throw over 1,000 yards to Marshall, just think of what Cutler can do. For comparison, Hester hauled in 27 yards last game and has caught over 100 yards just once in his career.

To make things even better for Cutler, the Bears drafted receiver Alshon Jeffery in the second round. In his first game as a pro, he brought in three catches for 82 yards and a touchdown while also having the game’s longest reception (42 yards).

3) Stephen Hill – WR – New York Jets – 20.5 fantasy points
What’s this? A receiver who’s being thrown to by Mark Sanchez doing….well? And he’s a rookie? It’s true — Sanchez may have found the go-to guy he’s been searching for all his career in Stephen Hill, who had a breakout performance in his first NFL game. Not only did he have 89 yards and five receptions — which all went for first downs — he found the promised land twice. Though he was only targeted six times, the rookie out of Georgia Tech quickly overpowered the Bill’s weak secondary and torched them for a game-high 17.8 yards per catch.

Coupled with the fact that the Jets lost Plaxico Burress, the team’s second-leading receiver last year, Hill is a definite must pick-up as he’s now projected to be a starter by head coach Rex Ryan. Though Sanchez has proven to be an untrustworthy quarterback in the past, he’s shown improvement each year, and it looks like he’s found his stud receiver.

4) Alfred Morris – RB – Washington Redskins – 21.6 fantasy points
Sure rookie phenom, quarterback Robert Griffin III had a stellar game Sunday against the Saints, but the main guy behind him in the “I” formation arguably had just as big of an impact. First-year running back Alfred Morris, who beat out both Evan Royster and Roy Helu for the starting gig, got a whopping 28 carries and made use of them as he rushed for 96 yards and two scores.

The Redskins haven’t had a feature back since Clinton Portis’ 2008-2009 campaign as attempts to start Helu and Ryan Torain in the past fell short. Morris brings something to the table in which the Redskins haven’t had in awhile — a dynamic player capable of carrying the running load every night. If Morris keeps getting 20 or more carries per night and RG3 continues to keep opposing defenses from stacking the box with good passing, Morris has an opportunity to be a 1,000-yard back.

5) Randall Cobb – WR – Green Bay Packers – 16.7 fantasy points
When a quarterback with a passer rating of over 120 last season targets one of his receivers nine times, most of them during crunch time, and he catches them all going for 77 yards, you know he’s worthy of a roster spot. Not only did he connect well with Rodgers in week 1, he also found the endzone as a kick returner as he ran back over 150 yards.

With the slow and steady decline of number-one receiver Greg Jennings, and Rodgers’ openness to throwing to just about any receiver on his team, look for Cobb to be a flex option
every week.